BIOL368/S20:Sahil Patel Week 4
The purpose of this exercise was to explore and critically reflect on current and past myths in order to better understand how information is spread and the power of current news on directing funding and research into critical areas.
Myth 6: Vaccines
- Myth: The AIDS crisis will be over once a vaccine against HIV is found.
- HIV was discovered in 1983, but first human trial candidate for vaccine took place four years later.
- HIV is able to evade body's defense systems by invading the cells in the immune system that fight off infections
- Increase in both American and international funding and research put into finding vaccine
- Greater risk for investors with vaccines, which are administered once or twice in a person's lifetime, as opposed to drugs which are taken when one gets sick
- "correlates of immunity = the immune system responses necessary to confer protective immunity against HIV
- Rapid mutation of HIV in an infected person complicates process of finding a single vaccine
- Methods of transmission:
- introduction directly into bloodstream via needle injection
- introduction via the mucosal membranes of the genital tract, the rectum, or the mouth (sex)
- Vaccine trials depend on the creation and maintenance of reliable infrastructure for screening and monitoring trial participants
Myth 7: Drug Company Profits vs. Poor People's Health
- The motive behind AIDS movement is to understand how people infected with HIV can better protect themselves and how people with AIDS in every country can obtain access to safe, affordable and reliable medication.
- Many poor countries have generic firms which produce and sell versions of existing drugs. So, countries hit the hardest with AIDS often times have no domestic pharmaceutical company to produce medication necessary for AIDS
- Patent system ensures major pharmaceutical companies have high profits and its products are successful through mandating international and national rules regarding intellectual property (IP)
- Intellectual property rules vary from country to country and the US, along with numerous other countries, often changes its IP rules to further their own economic interest. Changes rules as such can hurt the poor’s access to medication, so effort had been underway to standardize IP rules by the World Trade Organization (WTO)
- Center of current IP rules is the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement which has been subject to debate on two accounts
- Delayed implementation clause has allowed countries to postpone application of TRIPS standards which means low-income countries may have upto 2016 to be compliant. (This serves as a window to mass produce generic versions of medications under patent in developing countries. Ex: Brazil sets up universal-access antiretroviral therapy program)
- Countries are authorized to suspend patents under national emergencies
- International AIDS activists in the US threatened to expose the unfair pricing practices of pharmaceutical companies and thus joined forces with an international movement.
- Protesters began to protest at events such as the World Bank meeting and the WTO ministerial conference. This pressure from the public caused President Clinton to indicate the government would stop interfering with low-income countries' right to give medicine to their public.
- In South Africa the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act was passed and the act of licensing and importing medicine due to a national health emergency was permitted.
- During negotiations in Doha, under TRIPS, countries with major health emergencies are to issue mandatory licensing for generic production of patented drugs .
- This allows countries to be able to license and distribute drugs to the public and ultimately try to alleviate serious health issues
- However, poor countries still were not provided economic resources to produce generic drugs in the first place.
- Comprehensive plan to try and allow AIDS drugs in poor countries may include low and mid-income countries make use of all mechanisms possible to obtain AIDS medicine (importation and licensing)
- Wealthy countries should fund organizations aimed to fight AIDS and other harmful diseases
- Drug companies can enable social and economic justice but they need help from outside forces such as international governments and wealthy countries
In the Markham et. al study, a specific segment of the HIV-1 env gene was examined for its influence on host immune response, while other studies have used other portions of this gene. So, does the region of the env gene used impact HIV variation/evolution?
- My homework partners for this week were Lizzy Urbina and Karina Vescio and in class we worked together to formulate our research question which I was later realized was not quite what I really wanted to research so I proposed my own independent exploration.
- Irwin, A., Millen, J., & Fallows, D. (2003). Global Aids: Myths and Facts: Tools for Fighting the AIDS Pandemic. Cambridge (Mass.): South End Press.
- OpenWetWare. (2020). BIOL368/S20:Week 4. Retrieved Feburary 11, 2020, from https://openwetware.org/wiki/BIOL368/S20:Week_4